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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Most fertile soil, most lucrative mobile market

Yet another report from bdnews24
Bangladesh has been elevated to ninth position among the top 10 mobile phone markets in the Asia-Pacific region during first quarter of 2007. A recent study of UK’s market analysis company The Mobile World revealed the news, but the industry calls it "too little to celebrate." Three months ago, in the fourth quarter of 2006, Bangladesh was in the 10th position. But it overtook Taiwan after adding nearly three million subscribers during the first three months of 2007. "The primary reasons for this growth are existing low penetration of telephony and the availability of very affordable mobile services in the country," Grameenphone chief executive Erik Aas told, speaking about the report. Nokia Bangladesh head Prem Chand echoed Erik. "Increased competition through entry of new mobile operator and lower tariffs leading to affordability have fuelled this growth." He believes the devices with additional features and services beyond "voice only" and increased focus by manufacturers, such as Nokia, in the market are also the catalysts. But the country’s mobile phone operator’s forum – ATOB – is not that impressed. "Mobile markets of Bangladesh and Pakistan are quite identical (how?) but the regulatory environment is poles apart," ATOB president Khalid Hasan told Tuesday. He said the crucial difference has elevated Pakistan to fifth position while Bangladesh is in number nine. "Pakistan’s regulatory independence is enviable and we can do a lot better in Bangladesh," Khalid said, urging immediate reforms to the telecoms law.
Bangladesh had 24.1 million mobile users until March followed by Vietnam’s 22.3 million users at the same time. Bangladesh and Vietnam have pushed Taiwan off the Top 10 list, the study said. It also considers Bangladesh or Vietnam being a potential threat to the eighth-ranking South Korea (41.1 million) in terms of net quarterly addition of mobile clientele. There have been some significant changes to the top 10 largest markets in Asia Pacific by customer numbers between the fourth quarter of 2006 and first quarter of 2007, the report observed. The top six places remained unchanged, with China (463 million) and India (158 million) unchallenged in first and second places. Japan (96.7 million) is still well ahead of Indonesia (69.4 million) to be safe in the third place at least for another year. Pakistan remains fifth, finishing the first quarter of 2007 with 55.6 million customers and pulling further away from the Philippines (45.6 million) which is sixth. The first changes to the order in the quarter are in seventh and eighth places. During the quarter, Thailand (43.4 million), which was in eighth place at the end of 2006, added 3.2 million new mobile connections, more than two million ahead of South Korea (41.1 million). It has taken over South Korea’s seventh place in March.
From my limited knowledge, what I understand is Bangladesh's small size, plain landscape and the highest population density per square kilometre makes its the BEST country in the world for mobile phone companies. Because of Bangladesh's unique demographics, the outreach of a single base station/tower is able to serve more number of users, which means companies can and are supposed to cut down costs remarkably. BTRC and the mobile operators will continue pointing fingers at each other but the fact remains that our mobile telephony market is as fertile as the soil of the land. If we need to let farmers do 'contract farming' on our fertile land, we need to make sure when they reap the harvest, they give us more share of the crops and not take back the lions share to their origins.

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